LATHAM, N.Y. - Twenty-six New York Army and Air National Guard members are heading to Maine this week to take part in a national disaster response exercise being run by the Maine National Guard.
Called Vigilant Guard, the exercises are held each year by the National Guard Bureau and United States Northern Command to test the Guard's ability to respond to emergencies and natural disasters.
The Maine exercise will begin on Nov. 5 and run through Nov. 8 and takes place in Brunswick, Calais, Augusta, Orono, and Jackman, Maine. The exercise will involve assessing storm damage, hazmat identification, decontamination, search and rescue, patient extraction, triage, and other emergency-response measures.
"The New York National Guard is always looking for opportunities to hone the disaster response skills of our soldiers and airmen," said Maj. Gen. Patrick Murphy, the adjutant general of New York. "This exercise will give our personnel the opportunity to work with Guard members from other states as well as local first responders in Maine. The things they learn in this exercise will be put to use when we respond to events here in New York."
New York is sending 20 soldiers and airman assigned to the 2nd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia. The unit is trained to identify the presence of hazardous materials as well as chemical, biological, and radiological weapons and works regularly with local, state, and federal agencies across the northeast.
The 2nd CST will participate in an exercise at the University of Maine in Orono.
The 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse will send four airmen to man its Mobile Emergency Operations Center or EOC.The $750,000 unit serves as a command and control center during disaster relief operations.
The MEOC is 36 feet long by 13 feet wide and is a self-contained system, featuring its own generator capable of supporting 24-hour operations for three to five days. A satellite-based communications suite integrates multiple radio systems, three dedicated phone lines, national and local TV reception and a surveillance camera.
Two National Guard officers from Joint Forces Headquarters in Latham will participate as part of the exercise evaluation team.
Guard members from New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island will also be participating in the Vigilant Guard Exercise.Nearly 3000 personal will participate.
The New York National Guard hosted a Vigilant Guard exercise in November 2009 in the Buffalo area. That drill used a fictional earthquake in western New York as the driver for the exercise events.